Deja Vu

8 07 2008

I keep feeling like I have been here before. And indeed, I found one or two or maybe three Abderakhmans already. None fully compare, but all are keeping me very happy.

Bonnie and I spent four days in Mysore, a town which is pronounced exactly as you think it is. As it is an incredibly relaxing place, and a center for yoga and massage, I find the name inappropriate.

In any case, Mysore, like Marrakech, is known for its market. On day one, Bonnie and I wandered through the colors. Amidst the piles of vegetables, flowers and fruits, dozens of boys came up to us, trying to get us to buy things, and most often, to go their uncle’s shop to see how they make incense. When I said “no thanks, maybe tomorrow, or I don’t really like incense,” most eventually ran off, but one, who was by far the oldest of the crew, walked and walked with us. The more I said, “No, thanks,” the more he began to whine. It was an actual whine. Finally, after at least twenty minutes of plain old whining, he left.

On day two in the market, he found us again, and immediately, his face became pouty and his whining began. The kid was about nineteen, and his whine was so classic, I had to laugh. I wanted to say to him what my sister says to her three year old: “I can’t hear you when you whine, Maneesh. How do we ask for things?”

On day three, he rounded a corner and caught me talking to a different seller. He sized me up, preparing to make his face, and I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it. Going up to him, I shook his hand and began to whine. “Can you please come watch me make incense?” I complained.

He broke into a huge grin and responded without missing a beat. “Yes, please! I’ve been wanting to see forever!!! Take me to your shop! Why can’t we go there now!”

Maneesh turned out to be a great one. A giggler and a joker. And quite a good incense maker, I’ll have you know.  

Even better was finding Adil. He is a seller on a quiet strip of stalls, and right when I saw him, I felt like I knew him. With a sweet smile, he began a conversation, and automatically, I reached down to pull up a stool. By the end of a half hour, Bonnie and I had received wonderful recommendations, conversations and respite.

Today, I decided to go visit him again and sit with him for an hour or two. When he saw me, he handed me a seat inside his shop, ordered some chai, and I helped him make sales while we sat and laughed and talked. He wants to write a book on homosexuailty in India, and he answered all my questions about politics, religion and health care in India that I had been storing up from my week of travel.

Adil also recommended a lunch spot for Bonnie and I to go to, but when we arrived, it was ridiculously packed. Further, the system to wait for a table was rather unclear. Our best guess was that when a table opened up, it was a free-for-all to claim it. (As in you best just sit down on top of the people who are still eating if you truly want to secure your spot.) Turns out, we were right. Just before we all but gave up, a sweet Indian family sized up our table-claiming abilities and took pity on us.

“Look,” one daughter began, “We will get this table next. We will have two extra seats. You sit with us.”

Their son, a seventh grader with horny-rimmed glasses and the biggest smile, was thrilled when we accepted the offer. I talked with the son about things like Ferraris and lawn tennis, and he was desperate for us to come stay with him, and see his toys, games and sports club. The invitation is quite tempting.

Truthfully, the people I have met are some of the my all-time favorites. They have sweet, huge smiles, and they give head nods like there is no tomorrow. There is a gentleness here that continues to surprise me. Sort of like we’ve all been friends for years, and for a moment, we’re reunited.

I’ll end with this. We hiked 1,001 steps up to a Hindu temple today. The hike and the temple themselves were amazing, but at the top, there was also a saying. It said something like, “If you think you’re been here before, you were. Your life repeats itself every 5,000 years.”

So, all my feelings of deja vu are merited. And fortunately, I’ll clearly be back to Mysore, at least in 7008. The good news for the rest of you should be obvious: you have been here before and will be again. Let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Whenever you come, enjoy. And please, try the mango juice.

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